7 Minutes with Iain Armitage of ‘Young Sheldon’
As far as TV character goes, there's none quite like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. He is neurotic, eccentric, naive and incredibly awkward but those are the characteristics that really make him endearing too. But we imagine it would be pretty challenging growing up as a genius. Young Sheldon, played by Iain Armitage, depicts this struggle rather accurately. For two seasons, we've seen how this gifted kid navigate his life around his family and school. Now at the dawn of Season 3, the Young Sheldon actor shares more about his character, similar quirky habits he has and the chemistry on set in the interview below:
1. Now that you've played Sheldon in two seasons of Young Sheldon, do you feel quite close to the character?
"I think so, yes. I now feel very comfortable being him and I can turn his voice on an awful lot, and I do feel a lot closer to him than I did maybe in the first couple of episodes."
2. Sheldon is such a quirky character. Do you feel like you've got anything in common with him at all?
"A couple little things. Certain things with materials that can't touch each other—I have a couple weird things like that. Usually it's like wearing socks in a bed. Or shoelaces when you're tying them. Feeling the two materials rub against each other...I don't like that. I don't like socks touching carpet. I don't like socks touching sheets."
3. What about your castmates? Do they have any quirky habits that you can tell us about?
"I'm not sure. I think I'm the only crazy one. Everyone else is pretty normal. I have a wonderful time with everyone. Raegan Revord, who plays Sheldon's sister Missy and I have such a fun time on set, we run around at lunch and stuff. Oh goodness, we have a lot of fun together. And me and Montana [Jordan], who plays the older brother [Georgie], he is so fun and so nice. He's like a real older brother to us. He's like our jungle gym. He lets us climb on his back. And then there's everyone else—Ms. Zoe [Perry, who plays mom Mary], Daddy Lance [Barber, who plays dad George], Meemaw. Ms. Annie [Potts], I call her my Meemaw in real life."
4. After two seasons, does your on-screen family feel a bit like a real family now?
"Oh, yes, totally. We are very close to each other. Sometimes I come into work and my hair is all messed up—I try to keep the Aerogel in so sometimes I don't wash my hair."
5. Aerogel is what's used to give Sheldon his slick hair?
"Yeah. We go through trillions of cans of that in a year. I sometimes try to keep that in. If they put it on the day before then I come in and it's all crunchy and messed up because I was sleeping. I'll come in and one of the grips will come up, and like, mess it up and I'll say, "Oh, it was messed up already. You can do that." It's just nice. It really does feel like a family or a town or something."
6. Sheldon has a lot of complex scientific jargon that he has to say in the show. Is that hard to memorise?
"Yes. Oh my goodness. "And here near apogee, we gimble the engine to exert a tor, which executes a picture of a manoeuver to flip the rocket by 180 degrees. Needless to say, we use a PID controller to minimise the dispersions of landing site." Yeah, so that one was weird. And then, there was one where I had to say, "You claimed that the only way to calculate the magnetic field in QCD units is using Maxwell's equations, but you're completely discrediting energy density by a factor of 3.50 which when examined closely, you realise that the square root of four times pi..." I had a whole big line about science, and I forgot it,"
"It's always out of my brain. I pulled that from the very depths there. It's weird, I can memorise it before and after the scene, but when I'm doing the scene, I know it horribly, so I wish I could have that swapped."
7. You're a big theatre fan and have your own theatre review YouTube channel called 'Iain Loves Theater'. Your on-screen mother Zoe Perry has a big background in theatre too. Is that something you two bond over and talk about a lot?
"Ms. Zoe and I, sometimes we talk about theatre. Usually not though because we're either on set waiting to go, coming back to set to start acting or eating lunch. And in that case, we're stuffing our faces with food."
8. Besides acting, I know you've got a lot of other skills. You've got tap dancing skills, which we get to see in one particular episode. It was a little bit of flavour in there. You also do magic tricks—can we expect to see you demonstrate your magic skills on Young Sheldon too?
"Oh, thank you. Well, you'll have to wait and see. Also, I don't know the answer to that! It's up to [Young Sheldon creators] Mr. Chuck [Lorre] and Mr. Steve [Molaro]."
9. What was the best piece of advice that Jim Parsons, who played the older Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, gave you about playing the character?
"Mostly Jim's advice was about how to do the voice and a couple of his mannerisms –things like that. Now, I can just slip into his character pretty easily. It's like a coat or something. You can just put it on and take it off."
10. So now it's second nature.
"Now it's even first nature. The weird thing about acting is I can now hear my little inner Sheldon saying things like, "Why would you say that? Why? You, why did you step there? No step, step to the left." So now I have a little tiny inner Sheldon who annoys me all the time. With acting, I almost feel like the character takes over your body and I don't really feel like I'm in control of it when I'm on set."
11. Do you get recognised in public a lot and asked to say lines from the show? You might not be as instantly recognisable without the bow tie and the slicked hair.
"I usually like doing lines for people. Usually, they are like, "You're not young Sheldon!" and I'm like, "Oh, you wanna bet?" I have to keep my face pale. I think seeing a kid with a face this pale is a bit of a giveaway. I think most kids' faces aren't this ghost white. So sometimes I get recognised, it kind of depends."
12. Thank you for time Iain!
"Alright, thank you so much!"
The new season premieres this Friday, 27 Sept at 8.35pm, same day as the US on Warner TV (Unifi TV Ch 451 and Astro Ch 719)